‘Nobody is safe in Zimbabwe’- says lawyer Kadzere after police assault
Human rights lawyer Kudzayi Kadzere who was assaulted by anti-riot police officers leaving him with a fractured hand that required surgery has said Zimbabwe is a “prison, nobody is safe” and the “track record is there since 1980.”
Kadzere claims he was intercepted by police while on duty representing leaders and supporters of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) who were arrested for convening an alleged “illegal”meeting at a house of their MP in Budiriro, Harare last week.
The activists have now spent ten days behind bars. Their lawyers, who include Kadzere, are still arguing in court for their clients to be released on bail.
In an interview with the Legal Monitor, Kadzere recounted his bitter experience at the hands of the notorious police officers. He said that he had to seek surgery after being severely assaulted. He accused the law enforcement agents of being criminals and stealing his phone.
“I received a distress call on Saturday January 14, 2023, in my capacity as a human rights lawyer to attend to 25 residents of Budiriro, who had been arrested for an unclear charge at a meeting at the local legislator’s house.
“I was about 200 metres from the police station when I was waylaid and ambushed by a truckload of police officers who disembarked, accosted me and accused me of taking pictures and videos of them.
“I identified myself as a legal practitioner on duty and told them that I was attending to my clients, but they would have none of it.
“They immediately started assaulting me, dragged me out of the vehicle and used baton sticks, boots and sjamboks on me. They threw me into their lorry and continued assaulting me. They drove the truck into Budiriro Police Station, where they continued to assault me.
“When they ordered me to disembark from the police truck, one of them struck me again and I lost my balance. I was taken to the charge office and eventually released after four hours despite protestations that I needed medical attention because I had suffered a fractured arm and severe bruises.
“I was seen by some doctors who injected drugs to stabilise me and I went for an X-ray before seeing specialist doctors, who recommended that I go for surgery of which I eventually did. I underwent surgery on my right hand and doctors placed wires on my wrist to stabilise it.
“I have been put on a plaster and on painkillers. I was charged with criminal nuisance and escaping from lawful custody. I was re-arrested at Harare Central Police Station when I was trying to make a report on the brutality that I experienced. It did not make sense because I was the victim in all this.
“The remedies that are there are those that the law provides. I am going to sue these people who have violated my rights. If the law enforcement agents are to be fair and act in accordance with the law, we must see the individuals who perpetrated the assault on me being prosecuted,” he said.
They stole my phone in the process of assaulting me; they are basically criminals dressed in police uniforms.
“It is not just the assault, there is a very serious problem we are seeing in the behaviour of these people.
“I have made a police report already and the matter is under investigation, although I cannot say I am confident of the outcome of that investigation.
“If that investigation does not lead anywhere, then there is the option of private prosecution.”
Kadzere said, under the Zanu-PF regime, ‘Zimbabwe is a prison where no one is safe’.
He cited the case of Zimbabwean human rights activist Itai Dzamara who was abducted eight years ago by alleged state security agents, as an example of the current situation in the country.
Dzamara is yet to be found since his disappearance was carried out on 9 March 2015 by five men while he was at a barbers’ shop in Harare’s Glen View suburb.
“In Zimbabwe, we are all in a big prison, nobody is safe, the track record is there since 1980. I have clients of mine who have been killed in prison and some who have been abducted and disappeared. At one point, I was representing Itai Dzamara and up to now, we do not know where he is.
“I have represented Hilton Tamangani and, as you know, he was brutally beaten by the same police officers who assaulted me. Nobody is safe, I cannot say I feel safe, but that does not deter me from doing the work that I am passionate about,” Kadzere said.
The lawyer, however, remains defiant as he continues to represent the 26 CCC activists while wearing a plaster cast on his right arm.